the country. i believe that i have an invaluable contribution to make to american life and society. i hope i'll be able to make that as an american in the future, that's my dream. that's what i'd like to do. and i encourage each and every single one of you to keep in touch, to be familiar with my work and the help me in whatever way you can. i'd really appreciate it. god bless you and never let anyone tell you that you don't live in the greatest country in the history of the world. [laughter] [applause] >> booktv is on twitter and facebook, and we want to hear from you. tweet us twitter.com/booktv. or post a comment on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. >> well, next on booktv we want to introduce you to sam kean whose most recent book is
called "the tale of the dueling neurosurgeons." who are they? >> guest: so the dueling neurosurgeons are a.m. bros parre and andreas -- [inaudible] they were neurosurgeons in the 1500s in europe, and we usually don't think about neurosurgery going on that far back, but they were doing some very important work especially on a king of france who was kind of this big, macho king and ended up getting his face clobbered in a jousting accident one day. so they brought the best neurosurgeons in europe in to try the save him. and it was really a landmark case in the history of neuroscience where they learned a lot of different things about how the brain works. and that's kind of the premise of the book, is using these famous case studies, famous injuries especially to teach us about what every part of the brain does. >> host: well, what did we learn in the 15th century from these two neurosurgeons? >> guest: actually, it was very interesting. they diagnosed him with something which was controversial at the time called
a concussion, and nowadays, of course, we all know about them but it's kind of interesting because we're still learning a lot of these same lessons about concussions, about needing to take time off, you know? you see football players run right back out on the field after a concussion when they really shouldn't be and you can learn a lot about where these things come from when you read about these historical cases. >> host: where did you find this story? [laughter] >> guest: oh, i'm trying to think pack now. think back now. you know you just start reading about neuroscience really, really a story-based field maybe more than any other scientific field because you're dealing with language memory the way people interact with loved ones, emotions, things like that. so stories are really kind of built into the fabric of the field, and once you start scratching the surface they just pop up all over the place. >> host: you've written a couple other books including "the disappearing spoon." where do you come up with your title? >> guest: basically, you're trying to capture the fun of the
book, the spirit of the book. disappearing spoon was kind of a romp through the periodic table. so funny, spooky, weird story about every single element on the table, and "the disappearing spoon" related to one of the elements on the table. >> host: are you a scientist by training? >> guest: i studied physics in college, physics and english literature, so i kind of did the opposites there. i've never been a practicing scientist but have been writing about it for about ten years now, so been doing it a lot. >> host: sam kean back to the dueling neurosurgeons. from the 15th century to today i mean, what have we learned or, more importantly what haven't we learned about the human brain? >> guest: we've done a very good job of figuring out what specific parts of the brain do kind of in isolation. so you get injured in one part, and you start lying incessantly or you can't recognize your children anymore,. so we're very good about what individual parts of the brain do. what we're really trying to figure out now is how different
parts work together. and, you know, connections between them things like that. and if we want to take some next steps and get to really high-level things like how consciousness work how memory works on a really deep level, we need to be able to connect those different things. so that's where the field is kind of moving now, i think. >> host: sam kean, "the tale of the dueling neurosurgeons" is the book and this is booktv on c-span2. >> guest: thank you. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> here are some
>> look for these titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv and on booktv.org. >> up next, author, broadcaster and activist tavis smiley the host of "tavis smiley on pbs," he talks about the criminal justice system the obama administration, civil rights and economics. finish the publisher of -- the publisher of smiley books is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books including new york times bestseller "covenant," and his latest, "death of a king." ..